After breaking his collarbone a fortnight before the 109km Cape Town Cycle Tour last year, Ryan Harris is keen to make a major statement at this year’s edition of the race.
Harris joined the TEG Procycling Continental team for the 2019 season and, with the team setting high standards, he said he hoped to meet their expectations.
“Last year I had big aspirations for the Cycle Tour, so this year I’m very eager to come back even stronger [than before the injury],” Harris told In the Bunch today.
“I’ve had a good training block at the beginning of the year to make sure the legs are always a bit fresher closer to the time.
“The goal is obviously to win and we have an expectation to do so as we’ll have a really strong team for the race.”
Harris’s teammate Jason Oosthuizen finished second overall and he said the tour offered a good warm-up for the Cycle Tour, which he described as a “goal event”.
“It’s always nice to get a bit of racing in the legs before a goal event,” Harris said. “It gives you a better idea of where you and your competition are at.
“The race is known to come down to a bunch sprint,” he said, adding that as a sprinter this could work in his favour.
“With my team and with the riders we have at the moment I believe we have the strongest lead-out train.
“We have a pretty versatile set of riders who can win from any situation, so we’ll have a few cards to play.”
Regarding the sprints, he was understandably wary of the defending champion, Team Enza’s Nolan Hoffman, who recently beat Harris into second place at the Herald Cycle Tour and in stage one of the Tour of Good Hope.
“He has won the race multiple times and has the experience behind him.
“But I’ve had a few sprints against him and I’m really happy with my speed at the moment. Should it come down to a sprint I’ll feel good leading up to it.”
Harris, who turns 21 next week, also identified the OfficeGuru contingent as the dark horses of the race.
He said strong wind could play a decisive role on race day and that positioning within the bunch would be important.
There were rumours in recent days that the event could be cancelled due to the predicted strong wind.
However, race director David Bellairs confirmed today that, unless the weather changed dramatically for the worse, it was definitely going ahead.